It appears that Sen. Orrin Hatch will survive an intraparty challenge from Dan Liljenquist and win the Republican nomination for a sixth term in the U.S. Senate, according to polling data that shows him with a sizeable lead.
The new poll conducted by Key Research and faculty from the Center for the Studies of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University shows that, even if undecided voters make up their minds in droves to support Liljenquist, the former state senator still doesn’t climb above 42 percent, leaving Hatch with a comfortable 16-point margin.
And if those undecided voters happen to break for Hatch, the six-term senator could cruise to a 70 percent to 30 percent blowout.
The average margin of victory for Hatch in the four different models for the undecideds was a 29-point Hatch win.
"The bottom line is that no matter how the estimates are made, Orrin Hatch is always above 50 percent," writes Quin Monson, director of the BYU elections center. "The problem is that Liljenquist is so far behind. … In some of the scenarios, he is running behind ‘don’t know.’ "
Monson said that shows voters’ lack of familiarity with Liljenquist and that his efforts to make a case as to why Hatch shouldn’t be re-elected have failed to break through to voters.
Hatch’s campaign manager, Dave Hansen, said the campaign has been doing tracking polls on the election and isn’t surprised by the numbers. But he said the conventional wisdom is that undecided voters typically support the challenger.
"It’s all very interesting, but it all depends on who turns out to vote, too," he said.
Liljenquist’s campaign chairwoman, Holly Richardson, said the campaign is plowing ahead until Tuesday and feels good about the race.
"We’re going to work very hard all the way to the end to get our supporters to the polls," she said. "We’ve got very motivated volunteers, and they are here and working hard and have canvassed the state and found supporters everywhere."
A complete analysis of the numbers is available on the BYU political science department’s Utah Datapoints blog: www.utahdatapoints.com.
The survey used voting trends and demographics to identify voters with a high probability of voting in the 2012 election and 500 of those voters were surveyed by Key Research between June 12 and June 19. The margin of error for the poll is 4.4 percent.
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